Health Alert

Content: Per the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center

Residents Exposed to Flood Waters May Need A Vaccination
Although tetanus or outbreaks of infectious diseases after a flood in the United States are uncommon and mass vaccination programs are not recommended, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is advising residents to take preventive steps if they have been exposed to flood waters. Tetanus can be transmitted by cuts or puncture wounds. Thus, people who have open cuts or wounds and have been exposed to flood waters should consider a tetanus shot.

The need for the vaccination should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. The Health Department is also recommending that those who need a tetanus shot should get a Tdap vaccination, which includes protection not only against tetanus, but diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) as well.

Tetanus causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead to the tightening of muscles in the head and neck so the victim cannot open his or her mouth or swallow, or sometimes even breath.

In addition to tetanus, flood water can contain other pathogens or organisms that may cause disease. If you are in a flood area and become ill, contact your family physician. Symptoms to watch for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches and fever.
Tdap shots are available through healthcare providers and at the Health Department’s Immunizations Clinic at 2303 Dodge Avenue in Waukegan. The vaccination at the Health Department is $41.00. The Health Department’s appointment-only clinic is open Monday through Friday and the second and fourth Saturday of each month. For more information or to make an appointment, call: (847) 377-8470.

Free Water Testing
Health Department Offers Free Water Testing to Residents Affected by Flood Waters. The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is urging Lake County residents to take precautions to minimize health hazards during and after the floods. The Health Department is urging people who are not part of the cleanup effort to stay clear of the flood waters to avoid contamination, especially in areas where homes are served by individual septic systems. Septic systems are a cause for concern because they can release sewage into the floodwater when they are submerged.

The Health Department is offering free water testing to residents whose wells are affected by flood waters. You can pick up sterile bottles to be filled and returned for analysis, and obtain information about disinfecting wells at the Lake County Central Permit Facility, 500 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville, or at selected Township and Village offices in the County (check with yours). The Department is urging residents on private wells to have their water tested after the flood waters have receded. Here are some additional recommendations:
  • Anyone who has been exposed to the flood waters and has not had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, or can’t remember when they last had a tetanus shot, should obtain one from their health care provider.
  • Prevent children and pets from playing in or drinking contaminated flood waters left in puddles or flooded areas. This may result in illness. Be extremely careful about possible dislodged manhole covers, and the whirlpool or suction effect if water is draining.
  • Although disease outbreaks are rare after flooding, flood water can contain organisms that may cause disease. If you are in a flood area and become ill, report to your family physician. Symptoms to watch for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches and fevers.
  • Wash hands and scrub fingernails thoroughly with soap and safe water after working in flooded areas. This is especially true before eating or drinking.
More Information
Do not hesitate to ask any questions if you have any doubts about the safety of any food, water or conditions around your home. Call Environmental Health Services of the Lake County Health Department at: (847) 377-8020. Office hours are from 7:30 to 4:30 pm